Missouri Fun Facts & Trivia

Lake of the Ozarks from HaHa Tonka State Park, Missouri by Kathy Alexander.

Lake of the Ozarks from HaHa Tonka State Park, Missouri, by Kathy Alexander.

The Missouri Territory was admitted to the Union on August 10, 1821, making it the 24th state.

Missouri is known as the “Show Me State,” which some say began in 1899 when Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver stated, “I’m from Missouri, and you’ve got to show me.”

Called the Brothel Law, it is illegal in Missouri for more than four unrelated persons to occupy the same dwelling.

The ice cream cone was invented at the Missouri World’s Fair in 1904 when an ice cream vendor ran out of cups and asked a waffle vendor to help by rolling up waffles to hold ice cream.

Worrying squirrels is not tolerated in Missouri.

The most powerful earthquake to strike the United States occurred in 1811 in New Madrid, Missouri. The quake shook over one million square miles and was felt as far as 1,000 miles away.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Samuel Clemens, more familiarly known as Mark Twain, was born in Florida, Missouri, and grew up in nearby Hannibal. Beginning his career as a printer’s apprentice for the Missouri Courier in Hannibal, he eventually wrote for the Keokuk, Iowa Saturday Post. Soon after that, however, he abandoned his literary career and spent 18 months as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River. After the Civil War, he returned to writing for newspapers and magazines before writing his novels based on life on the Mississippi River, such as Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

St. Louis offers more free, major visitor attractions than anywhere outside the nation’s capital. These include the Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Zoo, Cahokia Mounds, Museum of Westward Expansion, St. Louis Science Center, Missouri History Museum, Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Grant’s Farm, and more.

It is unlawful to throw hard objects by hand in Missouri.

Kansas City is known for its barbeque cuisine beginning in 1908 when Henry Perry, the “Father of Kansas City BBQ,” started selling his smoked meats in an alley stand in the Garment District. As his tasty food gained popularity, he moved up until he ran his full-time operation out of an old railroad car near the famous corner of 18th & Vine.

Daniel Boone lived longer in Missouri than in any other state and regarded Missouri as his home.

Harry S. Truman was born in Lamar on May 8, 1884, and was raised in Independence. Beginning as a successful Missouri farmer, he served in France during World War I and, after the war, opened a men’s clothing store in Kansas City. An active Democrat, he became a Senator in 1934. As the 33rd President of the United States, Truman ordered the use of atomic weapons against Japan at the end of World War II.

Some of the names of Frontier Missouri chewing tobacco include “Scalping Knife,” “My Wife’s Hat,” “Lock and Chain,” and “Wiggletail Twist.”

Missouri was the third most fought-over state in the Civil War, right after Virginia and Tennessee.

The first train of the Atlantic-Pacific Railway, which became the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, or “Frisco,” arrived in 1870.

“Madonna of the Trail” monument in Lexington tells the story of the brave women who helped conquer the west and is one of 12 placed in every state crossed by the National Old Trails Road, the route of early settlers from Maryland to California.

In Buckner, Missouri, yard waste may be burned any day except Sunday.

Warsaw holds the state record for the low temperature of -40 degrees on February 13, 1905. It also holds the state’s high-temperature record when it reached 118 on July 14, 1954.

Budweiser Clydesdale Horse

Budweiser Clydesdale Horse

Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis, Missouri, is the largest beer-producing plant in the nation.

Captain Berry made the first successful parachute jump from a moving airplane at St. Louis in 1912.

Kansas City has more miles of boulevards than Paris and more fountains than any city except Rome.

Missouri ties with Tennessee as the most “neighborly” state in the U.S., bordered by eight states.

St. Louis is called “The Gateway to the West” and “Home of the Blues.”

Ozark folk wisdom says that splitting a persimmon seed into two thin halves will reveal an omen of the coming winter’s weather. If the seeds reveal “spoons,” they point to shoveling snow. “Fork” images foretell light snow, and “knives” portend cutting cold winds.

On July 3, 1985, the honey bee was officially declared the state insect.

Jesse James in 1864

Jesse James in 1864

Jesse Woodson James was born in Kearney, Missouri, the son of a Baptist minister. Some believe that cruel treatment by Union soldiers during the Civil War turned Jesse and his brother Frank into a life of crime after the war. Their first bank robbery got them $60,000 from a bank in Liberty, Missouri. For 15 years, Frank and Jesse robbed trains and banks throughout the U.S. In 1876, Jesse and Frank were involved in a robbery along with the Younger Brothers and other gang members. The Pinkerton detectives killed or wounded all of them except Frank and Jesse. From that point, Jesse, his wife, and children went into hiding, but the $10,000 price on Jesse’s head led Bob Ford to shoot him at his St. Joseph, Missouri home in 1882 to collect the reward.

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls, writer of Little House on the Prairie, settled in Missouri with her husband, Almanzo Wilder.

The first ready-mix food to be sold commercially was Aunt Jemima pancake flour. It was invented in St. Joseph, Missouri, and introduced in 1899.

Missouri has an official state rock – the Mozarkite adopted by the Missouri legislature on July 21, 1967.

During Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, Valentine Tapley from Pike County, Missouri, swore he would never shave again if Abe were elected. Tapley kept his word, and his chin whiskers went unshorn from November 1860 until he died in 1910, attaining a length of twelve feet six inches.

St. Louis was the site of the demonic possession incident that inspired the book and later the movie, “The Exorcist.”

Before 1866 it was illegal to educate blacks in the state of Missouri. The Reverend John Berry Meachum found a way around the law by taking his students out on a boat in the middle of the Mississippi River and holding class.

In the early 19th century, the folk song, Shenandoah, was sung about a trader in the Missouri River area who fell in love with the daughter of the Algonquian chief, Shenandoah. Sailors heading down the Mississippi River took up the slow, rolling melody for the slow, rolling work of hoisting a ship’s anchor, changing the words to suit their purpose.

Installation of bathtubs with four legs resembling animal paws is prohibited.

Sedalia has been called the cradle of classical ragtime.

St. Louis World's Fair, 1904.

St. Louis World’s Fair, 1904.

The soft drink Dr. Pepper was introduced at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. 7-Up also was invented in St. Louis.

Missouri’s state musical instrument: the fiddle, and the state folk dance, is the square dance.

Leroy “Satchel” Paige received his nickname as a young boy when he worked as a redcap and “looked like a walking satchel tree.” He was noted for his famous “hesitation pitch.”

Maple Leaf Rag became one of the first pieces of American sheet music to sell over one million copies.

Missouri has 5,500 recorded caves. Nearly 20 Missouri caves are called or connected to saltpeter, mined in some Missouri caves in the early 1800s because nitrate was needed to manufacture gunpowder. At least 13 cave names are associated with “beaver,” 36 with “bear,” 13 with “panther,” and 17 with “wildcat.” More than 30 have “buzzard” in their names.

Anyone under the age of 21 who takes out household trash containing even a single empty alcoholic beverage container can be charged with illegal possession of alcohol in Missouri.

Bleeding Kansas Fight

Bleeding Kansas Fight

Many historians believe that the Civil War began along the border of Missouri and Kansas when Missourians and Kansans battled over whether Kansas would become a “Free State” or a “slave state.” Border warfare began in 1854, seven years before the start of the Civil War.

St. Louisans consume more barbecue sauce per capita than any other city in America.

Blanche Kelso Bruce, the slave child of a Mississippi planter and a slave, became the first African-American to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate in 1875. He founded a school for blacks in Hannibal.

Creve Coeur’s name means broken heart in French and comes from nearby Creve Coeur Lake. Legend has it that an Indian princess fell in love with a French fur trapper, but the love was not returned. According to the story, she leaped from a ledge overlooking Creve Coeur Lake; the lake formed itself into a broken heart.

In Missouri, minors cannot purchase cap pistols; however, they may buy shotguns freely.

The most destructive tornado on record occurred in Annapolis, Missouri, on March 18, 1925. In three hours, it spun through the town, leaving a 980-foot wide trail of demolished buildings, uprooted trees, and overturned cars, and left 823 people dead and almost 3,000 injured in its wake.

Iced Tea was first served at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.

Missouri Capitol at Jefferson City by Kathy Alexander.

Missouri Capitol at Jefferson City by Kathy Alexander.

The present Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City was completed in 1917 and was the sixth in Missouri’s history. The first seat of state government was housed in the Mansion House in St. Louis; the second was in the Missouri Hotel in St. Louis; St. Charles was designated as the temporary capital of the state in 1821 and remained the seat of government until 1826 when Jefferson City became the permanent capital city. The current building was the third in Jefferson City, the first burned in 1837, and the second burned in 1911.

The state animal is the Mule.

A milkman may not run while on duty in Missouri.

The “Missouri Waltz” became the state song under an act adopted by the General Assembly on June 30, 1949.

Kansas City has more miles of freeway per capita than any metro area with more than 1 million residents.

Frightening a baby violates the law in Missouri.

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri by Kathy Alexander.

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri by Kathy Alexander.

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial consists of the Gateway Arch, the Museum of Westward Expansion, and St. Louis’ Old Courthouse. During a nationwide competition in 1947-48, architect Eero Saarinen’s inspired design for a 630-foot stainless steel arch was chosen as a perfect monument to the spirit of the western pioneers. Construction of the Arch began in 1963 and was completed on October 28, 1965. In February 2018, President Donald Trump signed legislation renaming the Memorial “Gateway Arch National Park.”

It’s illegal to sit on the curb of any city street and drink beer from a bucket.

The tallest man in documented medical history was Robert Pershing Wadlow from St. Louis. He was 8 feet, 11.1 inches tall.

Missouri was named after a tribe called Missouri Indians, meaning “town of the large canoes.”

Within a day’s drive of 50% of the U.S. population, Branson and the Tri-Lakes area serves up to 65,000 visitors daily.

Should you decide to provide alcoholic beverages to an elephant in Missouri, you could be arrested.

The tallest monument built in the U.S., the Gateway Arch, in St. Louis, is 630 feet tall.

Missouri’s oldest community, Saint Genevieve, was founded as early as 1735.

Saint Louis University received a formal charter from the state of Missouri in 1832, making it the oldest university west of the Mississippi River.

Dancing is strictly prohibited in Missouri.

Missouri Barn

Beautiful Fall Foliage along Highway MO19 near Hermann, Missouri, by Kathy Alexander.

Hermann, Missouri, is a storybook German village with a rich wine-making and riverboat history that is proudly displayed in area museums. Built in 1836 as the “New Fatherland” for German settlers, the town has achieved national recognition because of its quality wines and distinctive heritage.

Auguste Chouteau founded Saint Louis in 1764.

On Sucker Day in Nixa, Missouri, school closes officially, and the little town swells to a crowd of 15,000 hungry folks. All craving a taste of the much-maligned but delicious bottom-dweller fish loathed by almost everyone else.

Missouri was the scene of more than 1,000 battles during the Civil War.


Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated January 2023.

Also See:

Bleeding Kansas & the Missouri Border War

Route 66 in Missouri

Missouri- The Show Me State

Missouri Photo Galleries